MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — A Whitehall funeral home director was ordered to jail Monday for fraud after burying empty urns.
Thomas Clock, 61, owner of Clock Funeral Home of White Lake in Whitehall, showed no remorse before the judge sentenced him for fraud.
“I’ve spent my time in jail and I’m ready to move on, and I don’t think I should be punished,” Clock told Muskegon County Circuit Judge Thomas Hicks. “I don’t feel I should be punished further because I just want to move on.”
Hicks sentenced him to eight months in jail with credit for 141 days already served. That leaves a little more than three months behind bars. The judge also ordered him to two years of probation and to pay $8,000 in fines.
The investigation started with the discovery of a frozen body in the back of Clock’s van after his arrest in January for drunken driving. He was supposed to have buried 86-year-old Helen Anthony’s cremated remains at Fruitland Township cemetery, but her urn was empty.
Clock also was supposed to have buried the cremated remains of 5-month old Ryan Zack at the same cemetery. Ryan had died of complications of premature birth. His urn also was empty.
Muskegon County Sheriff Dean Roesler told 24 Hour News 8 in March there is no way of telling how many empty urns Clock might have buried.
“I’ve served 4,000 people, over 4,000 families, over 35 years and all of about 6 complaints, and a couple of them were justified and the rest of them are not,” Clock told the judge. “They were emotional-type things.
“I wouldn’t stand to gain anything by not doing what I was asked to do,” he continued.
Ryan’s family was in the courtroom, but didn’t address the judge. The prosecutor did that for them.
“When they’re going through the most devastating time of their life, when the grief overwhelms them with the death of their child, they turned to him, they trusted him and he betrayed that trust,” Muskegon County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Timothy Maat told the judge.
A lawyer for the parents of Ryan released the following statement from the family following the judge’s decision:
“My clients put their faith in the justice system and are satisfied with the outcome of these proceedings. This has been one of the most difficult periods in their lives, and they are thankful that this chapter has come to a close. They request that everybody continue to respect their family’s privacy.”
Thomas Clock’s funeral home in Whitehall is separate from the other Clock funerals homes along the Lakeshore. The Whitehall home has since closed.